First Step of Sarasota announces merger with Coastal Behavioral Healthcare

First Step and Coastal Behavioral Healthcare Announce Merger

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Two major non-profit agencies that help those in need on the Suncoast are joining into one.

Coastal Behavioral Healthcare is consolidating with First Step of Sarasota to offer that they call a “one-stop shop” for mental health and addiction services in the region.

The non-profits said they have a similar focus and one that compliments each other well. Coastal Behavior Healthcare primarily works with the mentally ill, providing behavioral health services and offering some substance abuse programs. First Step of Sarasota is the opposite. Their primary focus is addiction recovery with a lesser emphasis on behavioral health.

But staff said many of their clients need both and they are constantly referring people to each other, so this consolidation offers one point of entry for those suffering from addiction and mental health disorders. It solves a problem they often encounter where the families of those who need these services are unsure how to navigate the many different facilities and programs that will best suit their loved one.

This doesn’t mean any cuts to either facility, at least for now, but after a nine-month consolidation process, Coastal Behavior Healthcare will take on First Step’s name and brand.

According to staff, both agencies’ boards have been considering this merger for a long time, but there is no particular reason as to why now other than contracts with their sources of funding that are coming to an end.

Coastal Behavior Healthcare said this consolidation helps ease the pressure of costs that keep rising while funding steadily decreases.

First Step hopes this expansion is only the beginning. They want it to set the stage for further collaborations with other local private and public entities in an effort to better tackle the serious issue of addiction and mental illness on the Suncoast.

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